[ Home ] [ Articles ]

Vol. 8(6), pp. 2-9The McAllen International Orchid Society JournalJune 2007

Encyclia Species and Relatives in Flower

R J Ferry

Pl#140606-4. Encyclia species ignominata

We begin with a "species ignominata" which is the botanically formal way of saying it's an unknown species. Exactly a year ago, Pl#140606-4 was in flower. This plant was accessioned into your editor's collection as Encyclia nemorale, and is an alba or albescens form. E. nemorale is a synonym of E. adenocaula, and it was published as E. adenocaula in MIOS Journ. 7(6): 14, with a full-page figure on that issue's front cover. There were questions about it, and correspondence was exchanged between your editor and Dr. Withner, but in working with so many plants this one went through its flowering cycle without critical analyses being done.

Likewise, this summer season began with the April cold snap and things have not slowed much since! However, this plant was discussed with Dr. Withner when we met at the AOS meeting a few weeks ago. True to form, the plant came into flower in late May (a few days earlier than last year), and a few photographs and measurements have been taken.

Fig. 1. Terminal portion of inflorescence of Pl#140606-4 Encyclia species ignominata. Digital photo DSC_1663a, 17 June, 2007.

This year, with the plant in flower for a little over a week, one of the first flowers was plucked. The flower in the figure was dissected, pressed between two glass panes, scanned, and measured with your editor's electronic calipers on 08 June. The dissected specimen shows some distinct color, but this is due to the light of the scanning equipment. The inflorescence photographed on the plant, in sunlight, on 17 June, gives a more realistic indication of the floral color (Fig. 1), despite having been in flower for nearly three weeks. The two flowers at the left were sib-crossed on 17 June, 2007.

Fig. 2. Dissected flower of Encyclia sp. ign. (flower pressed between glass panes). Scanned image of pressed flower (all measurements are in millimeters), 08 June, 2007.

The dissected flower is presented below (Fig. 2). However, the coloring should be discounted as an artifact of the lighting of the scanning equipment.

Once the flower was dissected, it was obvious that this specimen could not be Encyclia adenocaula. All measurements in Fig. 2 are given in millimeters. However, due to space limitations within the figure, the labellum measurements have had to be given apart from the figure. They are: total length 26.95; spread across wings 19.76; length from apical point to disk: 9.98; disk 16.97 long, 17.31 wide.

Work continued, and the plant's floral and vegetative characters were considered. The following measurements are given in centimeters:

Pseudobulbs: obovate, ranging basally from 2.7 to 3.2 diameter with lengths from 5.8 to 8.4;

Leaves: lanceolate, acuminate, 1.9 to 2.7 wide, 26-35 long;

Raceme: is 81.8 long with few branches, it has intervals of 5.5 to a few at 9.0, terminally decreasing to 6.7 and 5.2 between the bracted nodes;

Flowers: the natural spread across the petals is 6.2.

Fig. 3. Lateral aspect of flower of Pl#140606-4 Encyclia species ignominata. Digital photo DSC_1656a, 17 June, 2007.

Although the disk of the labellum displays as a nearly round object in the dissected flower, in "normal life," two small "wings" are evident laterally as the labellum is folded back, and along the midline, there is just a hint of the labellum being distally acuminate (Fig. 3).

Fig. 4. Complete basketed plant of Pl#140606-4 Encyclia species ignominata. Digital photo DSC_1649a, 17 June, 2007.

The figure on the preceding page (Fig. 4) gives some idea of the space this plant can take up when in flower. The lattice basket is a little over 30 x 30 cm. square (slightly more than 12 by 12 inches). When it's in flower, one doesn't want to crowd this plant into a small space!

Fig. 5. Frontal aspect of flower of Pl#140606-4 Encyclia species ignominata. Digital photo DSC_1651a, 17 June, 2007.

In the flower above (Fig. 5), a faint line may be noticed across the back of the labellum. This is part of the web of a very small spider who had taken up residence in the flower. Although the spider's out of sight, it is, nevertheless, alert to any movement of the labellum by an unwary insect!

The foregoing data gives some idea of the ins and outs of culturing orchids. In this case, work continues with this "species ignominata."

Pl#170403-4/1. Encyclia hanburyi (Lindl.) Schltr., Orchideen: 209 (1914).

Most encyclias are spring-flowering plants, and Encyclia hanburyi is particularly colorful. This particular species is found in a few of the southern states of Mexico and it's also known from Guatemala. It normally flowers from March to May, but your editor has had it flower again in August and even September! The orchidist should take particular note the spelling of the specific epithet. This one may be found misspelled as hanburi, hanburii, hanburyii, or even hanburyanus, but it's simply the name of a 19th century English orchid enthusiast, Mr. R. Hanbury, with the letter "i" added. One can only wonder at the ingenuity of individuals to misspell species names!

Fig. 6. Individual flower, Encyclia hanburyi. DSC_1405a, 28 March, 2007.

Well grown, this species (Fig. 6), like most members of the genus, puts out a panicle that can easily reach more than a meter in length, bearing flowers that are long-lasting.

Prosthechaea chacaoensis (Rchb. F.) W. E. Higgins, Phytologia 82:377 (1997, publ. 1998).

Fig. 7. Inflorescence, Prosthechaea (Anacheilum?)chacaoensis? DSC_1417a, 28 March, 2007.

A group of seedlings entered the collection as Encyclia chacaoensis, but upon checking, the revised name was found to be as given above (Fig. 7). This is one of the group that bears its flowers without resupinating (which is twisting 180o and presenting the labellum downward). Members of this group are hummingbird pollinated, and they've experienced no natural selection pressure for resupination to evolve. Many members of this group have been transferred from one genus into another as more and more has been learned about them. They began as epidendrums which were shifted to Encyclia when excommunicated from the genus Epidendrum because they had pseudobulbs, and now they've been cast out of the sanctuary of Encyclia into Prosthechaea, and from Prosthechaea into Anacheilum because their flowers don't resupinate. However, although this species (with others) has been transferred into the genus Anacheilum, that name has not yet met with approval by the demi-gods of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. That's life in the orchid world. The more that's learned, the more the ordering is revised, and the more names are modified to reflect the new-found knowledge (or at least one hopes that's the case most of the time). At times, however, it takes a little time to get everybody on the same page.

By the way, another problem surfaces with this one in that its pseudobulbs are long and flattened, and those of P. chacaoensis are shorter and more ovid.

The name above, in bold, is the one accepted by Kew, but the orchidist is urged to read about the genus Anacheilum in Withner and Harding (2004).

Olsen #14. Encyclia surinamensis.

Fig. 8. Inflorescence, plant received tagged as Encyclia surinamensis. Digital photo: DSC_1584, 16 May, 2007.

This is another puzzler. It was bought by Dr. Olsen from Parkside Nursery, Inc. in Pennsylvania, and was said to be a plant of Ecuador. On 04Sept06 it was depotted from its plastic container and relocated in an 11 x 11-inch lattice basket in which it's thriving (Fig. 8). However, the Kew Index lists no such species, and the closest one can come name-wise is Encyclia (Anacheilum?) suzanensis, but that's been changed to Prosthechaea suzanensis which is applicable for a plant from Brazil, not Ecuador. Besides, it's plain to see that these flowers do resupinate, and are much more "Encyclia-like" than like the prosthechaeas (or anachieilas). So what is it? By this date, it's out of flower, and when it was in flower, none were dissected, pressed, and preserved. At this point, one can only echo the old baseball cry of, "Wait until next year!"

Pl#140606-21B Anacheilium trulla (Rchb. f.) Withner & Harding. 2004.

As the Stewart Orchid Company closed operations in Mississippi, this plant entered the collection as Encyclia lancifolia, a name reduced to being a synonym of Prothechaea cochleata var. cochleata by W. E. Higgins (1997), and the name accepted at present by the Royal Horticultural Society (Gardens) at Kew. Withner and Harding (2004) revised P. cochleata v. cochleata to Anacheilium cochleatum. So much for researching what's on a name tag, but this specimen was accessioned into the collection under a totally erroneous name in the first place! Detailed checking, and looking at the flowers confirms it as A. trulla!

Fig. 9. Pl#140606-21 Anacheilum trulla, received tagged as Encyclia lancifolia. Scan of dissected flower (rule increments in centimeters), 21 June, 2007.

The specimen was photographed, and as your editor continued to study this one, along with others, a flower was dissected, pressed between two glass panes, and scanned (Fig. 9). In this species, the labellum curves tightly around the column, and--when flattened--a split occurred in its upper left portion. Using the electronic calipers for greater accuracy, the distance across the widest portion of the labellum measures 19.55 mm. The reader is cautioned, however, in that the flowers on this plant were "going off" bloom at the time this specimen was taken. Hence the dimensions and configuration of the labellum may be distorted. This points up the need for pressing fresh flowers and photographing them promptly, using natural sunlight! Again, while we do have a pressed specimen of this plant on hand, it should be redone using new flowers. For this, we'll have to wait until next year.

Fig. 10. Pl#140606-21 Anacheilum trulla, received tagged as Encyclia lancifolia. Digital photo 1611a, 10 June, 2007.

For a better look at this species, an earlier digital photograph is offered (Fig. 10). It was taken when the flowers were fresh.

Copyright © 2007 R J Ferry